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Feast on These 12 Movies During the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend

20 Nov

The end of the year always brings with it a bounty of new movies, and sure enough, there’s a lot in theaters right now that’s worth seeing. Or that looks worth seeing but really isn’t.

So, with the end-of-the-year rush upon us, I thought I’d share some brief thoughts on 12 recent releases that you may be considering seeing as we head into the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend, starting with my favorite ones. Continue reading

Blake Lively vs a Shark, and Other Summer Movie Thrills

24 Jun

blake-lively-the-shallowsWhat’s with movie producers putting Blake Lively in danger? First, Ben Affleck turned her into a drugged-up townie in The Town. Then, she got kidnapped by a Mexican drug cartel in Oliver Stone’s Savages. Now, the erstwhile Serena van der Woodsen is being hunted by a hungry shark in The Shallows.

My girl just can’t catch a break!

Unfortunately, the same can be said for moviegoers. Based on the films I’ve seen in the past few weeks, there’s not a breakout that screams “must-see.” So, with that spoiler aside, I figured I’d share a bunch of recent reviews, starting with a review of Blake Lively’s latest. Continue reading

Halfway Through the Year, Some Great Movies to See

30 Jun

Inside-Out-MovieWhere has the year gone? I turned my head for a second and all of a sudden, we’re halfway done with 2015.

Six months in, it’s safe to say While We’re Young remains my favorite movie of 2015. But a couple releases in the past month have certainly earned themselves a place near the top of my list.

So let’s get to my monthly wrapup of movie reviews, shall we? Continue reading

It’s Scary How Bad This Movie Is

20 Jun

Monsters-University-posterIt had to happen eventually.

Pixar is the best of the best when it comes not just to animated films, but to movies in general. Its creations are true works of art: They’re gorgeously animated, innovatively designed, rich with humor and emotion, and full of characters you actually like. The movies tell wonderful stories and make impressive, subtle use of 3D. They’re as rewarding for adults as they are for kids — sometimes even more enjoyable for adults than for kids.

No wonder the company’s had an unparalleled streak of winners, going back as far as the original Toy Story film in 1995. With the exception of Cars and its sequel (which I didn’t see), nearly every other film they’ve made has been a winner: Up, Rataouille, The Incredibles, Toy Story 3, Finding Nemo, etc. … No other film studio can touch that resume.

So you might say it was only a matter of time before they put out a real stinker of a film. And now, with the release of Monsters University, they’ve done it. (Say it ain’t so!)

Continue reading

He’s Taking It One Game at a Time

1 Nov

Disney’s latest animated film, Wreck-It Ralph, feels a lot like a mashup of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Toy Story by way of Tron.

Set inside the world of arcade games — 8-bit and otherwise — it tells the story of Ralph (voiced lovably by John C. Reilly), the villain of a Donkey Kong–like game called Fix-It Felix Jr. After 30 years, Ralph is in a funk. He’s grown tired of being thrown off a building over and over again, living in Felix’s shadow, and being the bad guy in a town called Niceville. “It’s tough to love your job when nobody likes you for doing it,” he tells his support group.

Wanting to prove there’s more to him than just destructive tendencies, Ralph “goes Turbo” and leaves the game, heading off to the after-hours Game Central Station where folks like Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac Man, and Q*Bert mix and mingle, and into other games, like the violent futuristic war game, Hero’s Duty. Continue reading

Insanely Great Jobs

6 Oct

Many, many people will write tributes to Steve Jobs today that will be better than mine, so I’m not going to compete with them.

But I wanted to take just a minute to recognize his passing by recalling one of my most memorable Steve Jobs experiences.

It was in January 2007, on the day the iPhone was first introduced to the world. Continue reading

Sunnyside Up

18 Jun

It’s been 11 years since Woody, Buzz, and the gang were last on the big screen, and in that time, it’s not just Andy (their owner) who has grown up.

The passage of time is what gives Toy Story 3 so much of its emotional heft. No matter how old you are, and whether you see it with or without a child sitting next to you, it’s hard to deny that this third film hits you in all the right places.

It’s surely worth the wait.

And then some. Continue reading

The Sky’s the Limit

3 Jun

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words.

And then there are Pixar movies, where the beautiful imagery is just priceless.

So it goes in the company’s latest, the simply named Up, which is a gorgeous, bright, colorful movie that has as much depth and emotion as it does stunning visuals.

I just don’t know how those Pixar folks do it. Every single film they make is an impressive achievement, each one better than the last. Continue reading

Hello, Wall-E!

26 Jun

The geniuses at Pixar keep on cranking out animated films, and each time they do, people think they’re kids movies.

Well, with Wall-E, they’ve made a film that might not appeal to kids all that much. And that’s fine with me.

Wall-E is a beautiful film about loneliness, love, caring for the Earth, and other grown-up topics, and it stars a robot — not exactly the kind of thing a kid can cuddle up with at night.

In addition, nearly half the film, if not more, is completely dialogue-free, which will surely make the little ones antsy. Continue reading

A Tasty Treat

16 Jun

One of the major themes of Ratatouille is that anyone can cook. But watching the movie, it’s almost as if Disney and Pixar are saying, “Yeah, but not just anyone can make a good animated film.” And they’re right. There’s a reason those companies are the gold standard for animation. While films like Surf’s Up may be fun, they’re not as sophisticated as a Pixar movie. And Ratatouille ranks up there with their best.

The film tells the story of Remy (voiced by Patton Oswalt), a rat with a taste for good food and an uncanny ability to cook. Remy teams up with a young kid in a fancy restaurant and together, the two cook up some great dishes — which, of course, frustrates the head chef. Told with visual flair and featuring some great action-packed scenes, just like Brad Bird’s last Pixar film, The Incredibles, Ratatouille is not really a movie for kids. In fact, I’m sure they’ll be totally bored by it. That’s because the film really does focus on high-end food and doesn’t pander to the lowest common denominator. It almost never takes the easy way to a laugh (although, a food critic with the last name Ego does seem a little obvious), and focuses as much on character and plot as it does on awesome animation. And yes, Paris does look great. But more impressive are the scene where Remy is sent down the sewers into Paris and the ones where he’s running through the kitchen. Also worth noting are the voice talent, which includes Brad Garrett and Peter O’Toole, and the score by Michael Giacchino (Lost, The Incredibles). And please stay through the credits for the final, stylized animation sequence. That is, if you’re not too hungry.

After last summer’s Cars, which I didn’t love, I thought maybe I had outgrown the Pixar films. Thankfully, that one was just a minor detour. In the right hands, they can still be magic. And that’s surely what Ratatouille is. I’m giving it an A–.

(p.s. As a testament to just how much Pixar films are beloved, when the trailer for their next release, Wall-E, came on, the place went absolutely silent. For a trailer.)